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The Unknown Paintings of Kay Nielsen Paperback – 1977

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
A fine collection of fantasy art edited by David Larkin 1 Feb. 2001
By rampageous_cuss - Published on
Format: Paperback
Kay Nielsen was one of the last of the 'Golden Age' illustrators of fairy tales, and he made his reputation illustrating Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch's 1913 fairy tale collection "In Powder and Crinoline" (published in the U.S. as "The Twelve Dancing Princesses".) That book, together with "East of the Sun and West of the Moon", represent Nielsen's most popular work.
Originally Nielsen was strongly influenced by Aubrey Beardsley and Harry Clark, and combined strong line work with bold watercolor. However in later life his work became much more painterly, relying much less on line work and using a more subdued palette.
With the Great Depression, the golden age of illustrated books ended and Nielsen had great difficulty making a living as an illustrator. A proposed collaboration with Walt Disney fell through and Nielsen lived in poverty in a house provided by friends until his death in 1957.
In the last years of his life Nielsen painted a set of illustrations for a proposed edition of the 1001 nights, but was unsuccessful in interesting a publisher. He gave the watercolors to his friends, the Monhoffs, who approached Peacock Press with the illustrations after the positive reception of Bantom editor David Larkin's 1975 fairy-tale art collection "The Fantastic Kingdom" which included examples of Nielsen's early work. Larkin arranged to have the 1001 nights illustrations printed as the 41 color plates in this 1977 trade paperback.
Readers familiar with the Nielsen illustrations presented in "The Fantastic Kingdom" may find these works disappointing, as they represent Nielsen's later period of flat patterns inspired by 1930's-era social realists.....
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Marvelous, uneven 21 July 2010
By J. Kramer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Kay was not in the best of health when he painted this series. However, the best of these works are not only some of his best, but the best of the genre. The luminous portrayal of Salome, for example, is one of his best known, and deservedly so. Another is his painting of the doomed lovers on fire in the cemetery. The worst of them are wonderful; just that they are not sublime.

All of them show a deft touch, a deep understanding of design and palette, as well as an emotional connection to his subject matter. These were made in the hope of securing an income, but Kay loved the stories and loved the works he did. Like all too many artists, Kay was a horrible businessperson, and the style of his work, his whole genre, was sadly out of fashion.

I would love to see the originals, but I've got no clue who owns them now or where they are. If you want to see them, currently this book is the only place you can see them all.

Four stars because production could have been a bit better.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A different side of Kay 16 Jun. 2014
By rebmom - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What I didn't know before I purchased this book was that this was a collection of
illustrations for "A Thousand and One Nights" - never published. This is beautiful,
artwork, but don't expect the same treatment as his illustrations for children's books
such as "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" (1914) or "Hans Anderson's Fairy Tales"
(1924). An intelligent mixture of Indian and Oriental art styling, this collection is true to
those cultures in the expression of the human body. (In other words, not for children).
I do miss the works of that bygone era, though. True originality.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Adore the Entire Illustrated Book. 18 July 2011
By cafeaulait - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is a deeply profound story between these pages.A husband and wife thousands of miles from their Homeland.Barely getting by financially and still hold on to their Belief.Mr.Kay Nielsen is a Brilliant Artist. Even his Beloved wife, Ulla knows and follows Him.These forages into a Mystical World are Magical. Some may be un~suitable for Children. Some partial nudes that would have to be explained.Still there Are pages upon pages Everyone can view and admire.He was little known in Life. Now Mr. Nielsen Is Greatly in demand.The story in the Elegy is Sweet and Sombre and Soul~Wretching.Their Christmas Tree that could be ill afforded was home decorarted to Wondrous Delight.One will view several Genres.Many Cultures are seen and Should Be.A very interesting Artist that used every inch of the Canvas. Fully Present and In the Moment.An almost "transandental marriage" of Meditative Thought meets Art.Colours Are Vibrant As When First Painted.Oh, to own an Original Kay Nielsen. What an Honour to Behold! As this Magnificent Artist becomes better known~more of a Difficulty in procuring His Art in book form.Doubt the usual book stores will have his works.If find such as here, buy without questions!
Nice art 25 Feb. 2011
By Kevin L. Johnson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kay Nielsen did a limited amount of art and it is a pleasure to find this compilation of some of the less known things.
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